By Steve Hubrecht

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Urban wild turkeys are back in Invermere. 

For a decade or more a large flock of the birds had lived in Invermere, and another in Radium Hot Springs, and still another in Edgewater until they were translocated from all three communities to southern Alberta last winter.

There followed a reprieve of several relatively turkey-less months before the fowl turned up again in Invermere late this fall, albeit in far smaller numbers than they existed previously.

Invermere senior conservation officer Greg Kruger told the Pioneer he’s noticed that the birds are back, and said that, when it comes to wild turkeys making the town their full-time habitat, local residents have strong opinions both in favour and against. 

“Residents here seem to either love them or hate them. There’s not many in the middle ground,” said Kruger. He added that so far there have been no formal complaints about the turkeys to conservation officers.

When the Pioneer reported on the turkey translocation last spring, it spoke with the company that did the move — the Alberta Conservation Association (ACA). At the time, ACA senior scientist and wildlife program manager Doug Manzer explained that his group had moved a total of 177 wild turkeys, but that in each of the three communities (Invermere, Radium and Edgewater) there were about half a dozen or so turkeys that were simply too smart to go in the large walk-in box traps that the association used to catch the birds. 

Manzer had noted that even if the association managed to catch all the wild turkeys, the urban population of the fowl here in the Columbia Valley was destined to rebound. “Over time, the turkeys living outside town will realize it’s safer in town, with fewer predators, so they will come in. The turkeys will be back,” he had said.

It was just a question of when. 

And, as it turns out, ‘when’ is about a year. 

Kruger agreed with Manzer’s assessment from a year ago.

“It is to be fully expected that the population will slowly rebuild . . . turkeys living in the forests around the communities will come and go and as they spend more time in the communities, they re-establish the urban turkey population,” said Kruger.

Invermere Mayor Al Miller said he was a bit surprised to see wild turkeys back in Invermere so soon after the translocation, but added he’s glad that the numbers are relatively low so far.

“There are a lot of people who really didn’t appreciate having the turkeys in their front yard or on their roof. If the turkeys spent a lot of time at your home it can be more than a nuisance, it can be a real problem. Their feces can be very acidic and can actually damage roof shingles quite badly,” said Miller. “It was nice to have a break from that, at least for a bit. We shall see what happens, but it’s clear we’ve got them back. Thankfully not to the extent that we did before.”

Miller added he hasn’t had any complaints as mayor about the new turkey population so far, and the birds seem to be spending most of their time in parts of southern Invermere along 13th Avenue and Westside Road, as well as in the Wilder subdivision.

The ACA translocated the wild turkeys from the Columbia Valley to the foothill areas in southern Alberta where the birds are scarce, and where the association wants to re-establish wild turkey populations. It obtained permits from the B.C. government in late 2022 for the translocation.